profile picture base.jpg

silke bierbrauer


a city in a building


lower loop street, foreshore, cape town

resilience, adaptable, modular, development, hybridity, sustainability


About half of today’s population lives in cities. By 2050 it is predicted that 68% of the global population will live in cities. Limits to the Earth’s natural resources alongside our current consumption rate will lead to a bleak future. If nothing changes by 2050, we would need 1.6 Earth’s to sustain our resource needs and waste production. Cities would become increasingly unsustainable, unaffordable and socially unequal. The challenge that faces us is to rethink the built environment; to provide a system which promotes living within Earth’s boundaries and in effect improve the quality of life of all people. Cities need to supply services in ways that are resource efficient, climate friendly, resilient and equitable.

This dissertation investigates the appropriateness of the rigidity around the built environment and the delineation of programs across, not only buildings, but cities as a whole. It proposes an alternate form of development, that is able to generate a system that addresses the current static and unsustainable nature of the built environment. It embraces the process of change and creates an alternate form of a city that is able to adapt and be resilient in an era of unprecedented change. A city in a building is a microcosm of a city that is located in Cape Town’s Foreshore precinct. It seeks to address the issues faced by the urban dweller. It is in the form of a hybrid building which will house basic services and structures. The focus will be to provide spaces for living, working, urban farming and leisure that encourage productivity and are able to adapt and sustain a variety of urban dwellers, while not adding to environmental degradation. The building should not be seen as a final state but rather one that is able to evolve, change and regenerate itself as responds to the needs of a changing society.


narrated presentation


visual presentation

(please allow some time to load)

dissertation document